Ethiopia: Simien Mountains NP – Clan Hierarchy in Gelada Baboons

Exploring further into the Simien Mountains NP, we ran into another group of gelada baboons along the cliff edges, menacingly sitting on the rocks and looking at us – huge males with manes and terrifying looks. Interestingly, the gelada society, while very complex, is matriarchal, i.e. dominated by females. A dominant female usually establishes a clan, selects an “alpha” male solely for reproductive purposes and then shares him with her sisters and other siblings. The male’s role is almost exclusively that of a “sex slave”, a job that he can get fired by the dominant female at any point and replaced with equally big-looking another male in waiting.